Former Lisbon public works director named Brunswick assistant town manager

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BRUNSWICK — A Bowdoin man with almost two decades of experience in public administration has been hired as assistant town manager.

Ryan Leighton began working for the town March 30, after serving the town of Lisbon for 17 years. He began work in Lisbon as the town engineer and became public works director in 2012.

Brunswick’s assistant town manager position became vacant last May after Derek Scrapchansky resigned.

Scrapchansky was hired in December 2015, after the town eliminated an assistant town clerk position to budget for an assistant town manager, which the town hadn’t had since 2009.

Town Manager John Eldridge announced Leighton’s hiring at the April 2 Town Council meeting, when he also listed Leighton’s areas of expertise.

“Ryan has worked obviously in public works, code enforcement, he’s done computer networking, facilities maintenance, bike and pedestrian, (and) a number of other things,” Eldridge said. “He’s got a degree from the University of Maine in mechanical engineering and I’m glad he’s on board.”

Leighton, whose annual salary is $90,000, said the job will allow him to expand the types of tasks he manages, including special projects.

“That’s exciting to me as an engineer. That’s the kind of thing that I like being able to be involved with: a wide variety of tasks,” he said.

Taking on a senior leadership role, he added, seemed like the logical next step in his career.

“I’m getting to the point in my career where I was feeling, to take the next step toward the town manager’s role, I really needed to do it,” he said. “And the opportunity to work as an assistant really made the most sense, and especially for the town of Brunswick based on its location to where I live, the size of the community, and all the things going on, it was a really exciting opportunity.”

According to the job description, in addition to representing the town in the absence of the town manager, the assistant town manager is expected to oversee the town’s human resources department and assist the town manager in collective bargaining sessions and developing the town’s long-range and strategic plans.

The assistant town manager is also required to help the town manager prepare the town’s annual budget and capital improvement plan.

Because he began work well into budget season, Leighton said he is glad to have his past municipal experience to aid him.

“The benefit of being in municipal government for so long is I understand what’s involved with that process, and being involved, it’s just seeing how different communities do it, but obviously John (Eldridge) and (Financial Director Julia Henze) do a great job,” he said.

Leighton said his public works experience has also been helpful during the job transition, due to the recent retirement of John Foster, Brunswick’s former town engineer and director of public works.

“I’ve gotten to get my feet wet a little bit in town here and (focused) a little bit on what I was just leaving from a public works standpoint,” he said. “So that has kind of helped the transition and hopefully we get a public works director soon.”

In addition to the nature of the job, Leighton said the proximity to his home in Bowdoin, and the schools his children attend, Mt. Ararat High School and Harpswell Coastal Academy, is convenient.

He added Brunswick’s larger size and population, which is nearly double Lisbon’s, has been an adjustment for him, but he is excited about his new role.

“It was a little eye-opening, the sheer size of (Brunswick), and sitting with John Eldridge and talking to him about all the stuff that’s going on,” he said. “(I’m) trying to get involved now with a little more of the details, there’s a lot to it and it’s exciting for this position, because you get to be involved with a wide range of topics.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Ryan Leighton, former public works director for the town of Lisbon, began work March 30 as Brunswick’s assistant town manager.

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